WILLOW, Alaska — A foreboding wall of gray consumed the horizon across Willow Lake Sunday as the first sleds began the long days and sleepless nights of the 1,100-mile journey toward Nome's famed burled arch in the Iditarod race.
Myriad stratagems will be considered and choices made along the trail over the next several days — when to rest, when to lay over, when to push ahead. Some had been made even before the 2 p.m. restart. Musher G.B. Jones of Wasilla scratched after the ceremonial start in Anchorage on Saturday due to illness, reducing the record field from 96 to 95 teams. And Rachael Scdoris, the legally blind musher from Bend, Ore., had decided she and Joe Runyan, her guide for this running of the Iditarod, would skip their appointed start times — Scdoris was to be the 53rd team out, Runyan 81st — so they could leave together at the back of the pack.
The decision will cost them time — Scdoris will be more than 80 minutes late leaving the restart, Runyan about 30."All together we'll lose about four hours with the start and the differential at the 24-hour layover)," Scdoris said. "That aside, we have two very good teams and we're both competent mushers. If we have to make up that differential at the 24, that's just two hours extra rest for the team."
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